Jackson v. Virginia

PETITIONER: Jackson
RESPONDENT: Virginia
LOCATION: US Department of State

DOCKET NO.: 78-5283
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 443 US 307 (1979)
ARGUED: Mar 21, 1979
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1979

ADVOCATES:
Carolyn J. Colville - for petitioner, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
Marshall Coleman - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Jackson v. Virginia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 21, 1979 in Jackson v. Virginia

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Jackson against Virginia.

Mrs. Colville, I think you may proceed when you're ready now.

Carolyn J. Colville:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

The issue before the Court today is whether a federal district court should issue a writ of habeas corpus when there is insufficient evidence in the state court record to convince a rational trier of fact of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A statement of the relevant proceedings is as follows.

The petitioner, James A. Jackson, who was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Briefly, the evidence indicated that he had shot the deceased, Mrs. Mary Cole twice, that several shots were fired at the scene.

That he engaged in target practice that day.

However, there was an extensive evidence indicating he consumed a large amount of alcohol, and shortly before the death of Mrs. Cole, the two of them had drank two-fifths of whiskey, a fifth of some other alcoholic beverage, it was not divulged in the record, and an undetermined amount of beer.

He admitted to the shooting in the statement made to the police but indicated it was in self-defense.

He then unsuccessfully appealed this case to the Virginia Supreme Court.

He thereupon filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

In which he made numerous allegations, including an allegation that his conviction for first-degree murder was unsupported by evidence of premeditation.

The District Court judge thereupon searched the record and determined that he could find no evidence of premeditation to be found.

Warren E. Burger:

Now, how did this district judge come to be addressing this subject?

Carolyn J. Colville:

Mr. Jackson alleged in his petition that his evidence -- that his conviction was not supported by evidence of premeditation.

Warren E. Burger:

It wasn't -- this wasn't the first time the case had been before a court.

The case wasn't initiated in the federal court.

Carolyn J. Colville:

No, it is initiated in the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County, Virginia.

Warren E. Burger:

Yes.

Carolyn J. Colville:

He then an unsuccessfully appeal in the case of Virginia Supreme Court.

Warren E. Burger:

What was the federal court doing with it?

What brought the federal court end the case?

Carolyn J. Colville:

He was alleging a deprivation of rights.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, by what kind of a procedure was he in federal court?

Carolyn J. Colville:

He filed petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Warren E. Burger:

For a writ of habeas corpus.

Carolyn J. Colville:

Right.

Warren E. Burger:

Yes.